Best places to swim with sharks

Story highlights

For a particular type of traveler, "shark-infested" is exactly how water should be

The global shark tourism industry makes an estimated $500 million a year

Options include viewing inside a cage and feeding sharks

CNN  — 

Megalodon may be extinct, but other sharks have been making headlines lately.

There’s the great white-tracking app Sharktivity, there’s this viral photo of a shark dangerously close to a surfing boy, and there’s the Australian zebra shark who shocked scientists by giving birth without a male.

And as our fascination shows no sign of abating, swimming with sharks continues to be a large and growing activity.

The global shark tourism industry makes an estimated $500 million a year, says Patric Douglas, founder of Shark Divers and a shark dive specialist based in California.

Many tout swimming with sharks as one of the greatest diving experiences to be had.

Depending on the diver’s comfort level, options range from observing sharks from underwater cages to participating in feedings.

Here’s where to do it.

MORE: Great white shark tracking goes mobile

False Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Chris Fallows shark_00003427.jpg
Cage diving with great white sharks
02:07 - Source: CNN

African-Shark Eco-charter

It’s a mystery why shark breaches at False Bay are more frequent and intense than anywhere else in the world.

“White sharks from around the world will breach here, but may not anywhere else,” says Karen Lawrence from African Shark Eco-charter. “The intense predator-prey interaction is majestic to watch.”

Rob Lawrence, owner of African Shark Eco-charter, is one of the first people to have used a decoy to entice a shark breach.

The Air-Jaws tour takes off at dawn, when shark breaching is the most common.

The charter also offers cage diving with great whites.

African-Shark Eco-charter, Boardwalk Centre, St. George’s Street, South Africa; +27 082 838 2309; contact for package rates

Shark Cage Diving KZN

Kwazulu-Natal’s unspoiled waters offer sightings of reef sharks, ragged-tooth sharks and giant guitar sharks.

Each guest spends 30 minutes in the cage during the two-and-a-half-hour trip.

Divers may encounter up to 20 sharks.

Shark Cage Diving KZN, 4182 Old Main Road, South Africa; 082 373 5950 (RSA)/+27 - 82 - 373 5950 (International); dives from around $100 per person

Apex Shark Expeditions

February to September is the best time for shark cage diving trips in False Bay.

When False Bay is out of season, Apex Shark Expeditions – run by Chris and Monique Fallows – offer trips to Gansbaai year-round.

The waters off Dyer Island have earned the nickname Shark Alley due to their remarkable great white shark populations, attracted by the 60,000-strong sea colony on Geyser Rock.

Apex Shark Expeditions, Quayside Buildings, Main Road, Simon’s Town, Cape Town; +27 79 051 8558; contact for rates

Swimming with the underwater Big 5

Protea Banks, South Africa


Divers may encounter up to eight different species of sharks in one dive at Protea Banks. During high season, hammerheads and sand tiger sharks can be seen in schools of several hundred.

AfriDive is an advanced dive site and a prime location to see bull and tiger sharks.

“It is an adrenaline-loaded thrill,” says Afridive owner Roland Mauz. “Banks is what I call the Himalayas of scuba diving,” he says.

AfriDive, Albert Meyer Drive, Shelley Beach, South Africa; 0824 567 885; dives from $135 per person